The Tamiya 1/48 P-38F/G Progressive Build: Part II

The Build: Part II



Well folks as usual with my builds, things take longer than I’d like; I’m not a fast builder. This second part of my Tamiya P-38F/G build deals with an issue I caused myself and has suggestions for re-sequencing a few steps in the build to make it easier.


Let’s get to it.

For Part I of this build go Here.

With the center pod assembled I set about attaching the gun bay doors on each side of the pod and was surprised to see that one door didn’t fit as well as the other. “Surprised” because during test fitting (prior to committing with glue) the doors fit perfectly.  Hmmmmm……………..





It took just a few moments under good light with magnification to see that the starboard wing fillet wasn’t lined up as well as the port. This was due, I suspect, to shifting of the one side during over-clamping of the assembly. Ugh. I suspect the shift was a small fraction of a millimeter but the tolerances on this model are so tight that a small shift like that will manifest later in the build as ill fitting components downstream in the assembly sequence (stay tuned). I’ve heard similar comments from those that have built Wing Nut Wings kits. Although I’ve got an embarrassing number of WNW kits in ye olde’ stash, I’ve not actually built one. However, the similarly high tolerances of their kits require a little extra effort to ensure there’s no paint or schmutz between mating surfaces, as this will cause a miss-alignment of very tight fitting components.

Be forewarned; the fit of this kit is amazingly tight BUT that can work against you if you’re a sloppy builder or get lazy with regards to alignment during assembly. I write that from experience.

After some adjustments were made with files and sand paper both gun bay doors were attached to my satisfaction. I considered the experience a wake-up call for the remainder of the build and spent extra time and effort assuring good alignment of all parts prior to committing with glue.

With the center pod built I set about completing the wing assemblies and it was at this point that I deviated from the assembly sequence in the instructions, which entailed adding the turbo-supercharger assemblies to the top of each boom. The presence of those assemblies would create a lot more work in the form of masking prior to priming and painting. Moreover, I suggest that a better finish can be obtained more easily by painting, detailing, and installing the turbo-superchargers after priming and painting.


Next up, the parts for the main wheel wells were affixed to a painting board and shot first with Mission White Primer followed by Mission Aluminum. Both were applied at ~12psi with an H-S Evolution fitted with 0.20mm tip.

Note: Scroll down for suggestions and how to dilute and spray Mission Models Primers, Paints, and Clear Coats.





The main wheel wells are comprised of multiple interlocking parts that are amazingly detailed. Some time spent with a detail brush followed by a panel wash will result in some of the most convincing wheel wells right out of the box this reviewer has seen. That said there’s room for improvement in the recommended assembly sequence that will make subsequent building steps much (MUCH) easier.

In particular Step-19 instructs the builder to install part D23 to the forward main wheel well bulkhead (Part C47). Part D23 is shaped roughly like a “Y” the upper arms of which are part of the gear door retraction mechanism. If installed as recommended these retracts–annoyingly sticking out of both wheel wells–will prove to be an amazing nuisance while handling the model during assembly.

Note that in the picture the missing retracts have been replaced with blue lines. This is because I grew tired of gluing them back on every time I broke one and instead just left them off. It didn’t take long before, mercifully, I had broken all of them off and there was much rejoicing at the bench when that happened.

An easy fix for this situation would be to install part D23 into the completed wheel well during final assembly: if I had only thought of this sooner. Part D12 is trapped by the bulkhead (C47) and protrudes as well but it won’t be possible to install this part easily later in the build.

The assembled wheel wells are trapped between the tail boom halves and as with the rest of the model, the fit is perfect. Very nice additions are the two steel ball bearings that fit into receptacles at the front end of each wheel well assembly thereby providing more than enough weight to ensure your -38 won’t be a tail-sitter—very nice, indeed.

Next up are the oil coolers on the sides and chin of each boom. Tamiya used an interesting approach here in that decals are supplied for the faces of the coolers that look very convincing once applied. Not knowing if the decals would cover the entirety of each cooler face, I opted to shoot these areas with a mix of Mission Black and Clear Primer followed by Mission Aluminum and then apply the decals. The result was very convincing. After the oil cooler housings are added to the boom oil coolers and the chin intakes are glued in place, the booms are largely complete.






To ensure the very prominent seams on the top and bottom of each boom were completely filled, I shot these areas with Mr. Surfacer 1,000 suspended in Gunze Leveling Thinner. For details on this little trick go here.




Upon gluing the booms onto the wing center section I was again confronted with a slight miss-alignment of the starboard boom that traced back to my initial mistake when assembling the center section/pod. As noted earlier, the tolerances on this model are so tight that a miss-alignment at step A will be transmitted through steps B, C and…….

I opted to rectify the situation by applying a little heat (hair dryer) to the starboard boom and tweaked it straight with a little muscular coercion: problem solved.

The additions of the single-piece horizontal stabilizer/elevator and twin rudders completed the assembly of the empennage. Next in sequence are the landing gear assemblies but I deviated from the instructions opting to move on to the cockpit canopy installations instead. We’ll return to assembling and detailing the landing gear later in the build.

The pilots’ seat and armored back plate/headrest assemblies are beautifully detailed and install with no fuss. One small issue is the lack of cut outs at the top of the seat back through which the seat harnesses passes through. These are represented by rectangular-shaped indentations. For simplicity I opted to paint the indentations black and bend the shoulder harnesses to make them appear as though they pass through the seat back.








The radio assembly is nicely detailed and looks very convincing after paint and wash. I suspect those that like going the extra mile will add additional detail in the form of cables and wires and with the large, clear rear canopy, their work will be easily appreciated.

The gun sight assembly provided in the kit is very nicely detailed. Note that there are two different gun sights that are mark specific so you’ll have to decide on building the F or G at this point (and a few others). Even the instrument combing/dash assembly, complete with decal, is dripping with detail. That said I found Step 49: gluing the gun sight assembly to the inner face of the windscreen, a bit nerve racking. The assembly rests on small protrusions located on the inner face of the vertical frames and a misstep here (with any kind of glue) could get a little messy.


For stability I mounted the windscreen to a painting board with putty and used Gold CA Odorless Glue (Bob Smith Industries) to affix the sight. Some may prefer to use white glue for this step. Once in place I breathed a slight sigh of relief.

The panel combing/dash installs into the bottom of the front windscreen completing the assembly: beautiful.





Entirely different canopy center section parts are provided for building either an F or a G and all are crisply cast and crystal clear. In addition, an open-canopy option is provided for both variants so a good study of the instructions here is prudent. I’m building a G model with an open canopy so the appropriate parts were prepped and prepared for painting using the kit masks.

Note: I was a bit put off with the kit masks when I first examined them. Although they’re made of Tamiya-tape-like material, they are not die cut and require removal from the sheet with a sharp blade, good magnification, and a steady hand. I tried to cut along the exact center of each line while removing the masks and found that the resulting panels fit perfectly within the intended pane of the canopy: nice.

With the front windscreen and rear canopy in place, I masked the open center section with Tamiya tape and got ready to shoot some primer: ah yea 🙂

Prior to priming, the model was wiped down with a Kimwipe saturated with Denatured Alcohol (DA). When the model was dry (~10min) it was wiped down again with a dry Kimwipe. Kimwipes are lint free but most importantly they’re treated so as to remove static electricity; not impart it. This is especially important for canopies if you wish them to remain dust free when the build is complete. For more suggestions on canopies and clear parts go here.

I primed the model with a mixture of Mission White and Mission Clear Primer (scroll down for suggestions on diluting and spraying Mission Primers and Clear Coats). This was applied as a dry coat followed by a wet (fill) coat at ~15psi with an H-S Evolution fitted with a 0.40mm tip.

MPS Paint Mixing, Measuring, and Storage Tools


Bottles, Mixing Balls, Funnels


5 and 10ml Paint Vials


2 and 5ml ml Tubes




Stainless Spatula




After 24hrs the primer coat was wet-buffed with Micromesh 6,000 pads and sheets followed by a thorough wipe down with a dry Kimwipe. The produced a very smooth finish on which to begin the paint scheme. However, before any O.D. Green or Light Grey was prepared, a mix of Mission Aluminum and Mission Clear Primer was shot over those areas on the airframe that will be made to look weathered and chipped.


Once a model makes into primer, the adrenaline starts flowing and I get jazzed about the steps to come. In addition to preparing and “masking” for the chipped metal effect on the wing leading edges and center section, I’ll be trying something a little different with regards to both materials and the final finish of this model. In Part III of the build we’ll get into a little super detailing of the landing gear and some tricks for replicating weathered and worn propeller blades but until then…………….…. go paint something 🙂


Suggestions for Diluting and Spraying Mission Primers and Paints

Mission Primers:

I dilute Mission Primers 1:1 or 50:50 with Mission Thinner. No Polymix should be added. If it’s a dry or hot day, I’ll add a few drops of Liquitex Flow Aid to lessen tip dry. I usually spray diluted primer at 12-15psi. The size of the model determines the airbrush tip size used but usually between 0.20 to 0.40mm for 1/72, 1/48, and 1/35. I apply the primer first as a dry or tacky coat followed by a wet fill coat.

Mission Paints:

To spray Mission paints I first prepare a solution of Mission Model Thinner to which Mission Clear Primer has been added to 30%. I’ll refer to this as CP30 (Clear Primer 30%). I then dilute Mission Models Paints directly into this solution for spraying. Using a pre-mixed solution of Mission Clear Primer and Thinner allows you to prepare paint dilutions in a much more reproducible way thereby ensuring the resulting mixes will spray in a predictable manner.

I dilute Mission Paints with CP30 using the following guidelines:

General Spraying

Dilute 50:50 to 40:60 with CP30.

Example: The 50:50 mix would be 1part paint to1 part CP30. Spray at ~12-15psi.

Fine-Line Spraying

Dilute 40:60 to 30:70 (depending on temp and humidity). Spray at ~10psi or less.

Modulation (spraying over pre-shading)

Dilute 40:60 to 20:80 with CP30. Spray at ~10-12 psi.

Mission Metallics:

I dilute Mission metallics 70:30 with CP30. That’s 7 parts metallic paint to 3 parts CP30. I apply diluted metallics as light, over-lapping dry coats. I let the preceding coat dry (sometimes aided by a hair dryer) before spraying the next coat. The metallic sheen will develop with successive coats.

Mission Clear Coats:

CP30 (30% Clear Primer)

I use CP30 as a general clear coat preparatory to decaling and/or weathering. When applied as a dry coat followed by a wet coat CP30 dries to semi-gloss finish that’s ideal for rendered oils and enamel panel liners.

Mission Gloss Coat

Dilute 40:60 with Mission Thinner. That’s 4 parts Gloss to 6 parts Thinner. Spray at ~12-15psi. I like to build Mission Gloss up slowly using light over-lapping dry coats. Avoid getting too much gloss on the model as puddling and runs can occur.

Mission Semi-Gloss Coat

Dilute 40:60 with Mission Thinner. That’s 4 parts Semi-Gloss to 6 parts Thinner. Spray at ~12-15psi. I like to build Mission Gloss up slowly using light over-lapping dry coats. Avoid getting too much gloss on the model as puddling and runs can occur.

Mission Flat Coat

Dilute 25:75 with Thinner. That’s 1 part Flat to 3 parts Thinner. Spray at ~12-15psi and apply as over-lapping, light, dry coats.

Happy Modeling!